Liberia: President Weah Open to Dialogue; But Rules Out Meeting With June 7 Save the State Protest Organizers
Monrovia – Liberian President George Manneh Weah has ruled out a meeting with organizers of the June 7 Protest dubbed, Save the State.
Henry Karmo, [email protected]
Addressing legislative reporters following his meeting the Senate Tuesday the President said he is not moved by the June 7 planned protest but says he is open to dialogue. “I’m not moved by what’s happening but I think the protest people have their right to protest. I think it is important for us to dialogue. We know what brought April 14, 1979 which is still on the minds of a lot of people and we are doing our best to make sure that does not happen again. Liberians should strive to promote peace and stability and this is what we are doing.”
The President described Tuesday’s meeting with Senators as cordial. “We discussed national issues and some of the concerns to keep the country safe and peaceful including the protest, the concerns of citizens.”
The tete-a-tete with Senators follows a recent concern expressed by former President Pro Tempore of the 53rd Legislature, Cletus Segbe Wotorson. Mr. Wotorson, who visit the floor of the Senate last week, urged Senators to help tone down heightening tension in the country amid lingering political storms.
President George Manneh Weah
“I’m not moved by what’s happening but I think the protest people have their right to protest. I think it is important for us to dialogue. We know what brought April 14, 1979 which is still on the minds of a lot of people and we are doing our best to make sure that does not happen again. Liberians should strive to promote peace and stability and this is what we are doing.”
The former Pro Temp decried what he described as confusion and negative media reports about what is unfolding in Liberia today. “I want to look at my elders, whether by age or position, to see what they can do to tone down to calm the storm. In situations like this, what the whole Senate could possibly do is to ask a meeting with the Executive, and remind of the problem currently facing the country. In my opinion, I think it is the moral responsibility of the Senate to seek that audience,” Wortorson said.
Mr. Wotorson then suggested a closed-door discussion among themselves as plenary to have a unified approach for what would be talked about so that the discussions can be substantive.
“You can stand with the senate leadership to take responsibility to make sure that the meeting takes place, because we are in a situation and we cannot go back to the days of old. So my dear colleagues, I look up to you for a responsible approach and don’t let us shift or transfer our responsibility to the Council of Churches; it is your national responsibility to calm the state, and I think you can gladly embrace that. A suggestion from an old man, who sat here before.”
Tuesday’s meeting between President Weah and Senators also comes as the Liberia Council of Churches have expressed a willingness to help mediate in the ongoing impasse as organizers of the June 7 Save the State Protest zero in on the big showdown.
In a communication to the organizers late last week, the LCC suggested that a “frank and focus dialogue”be held on Friday, May 10, 2019, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs between President Weah and protesters.
“The council of churches working in collaboration with the interreligious council of Liberia and other Ecunemical Partners seeks you, the Council of Patriots and the government of Liberia’s endorsement to facilitate an open meeting to enable both parties to engage and seriously consider addressing the political, economic and social challenges that are the subject at these actions, which ordinary Liberians who are also our parishioners are also genuinely concerned about,” the letter adds.
The LCC adds that it is open for discussion on the “terms” of the planner of the protest “on how we can address the political, economic and social challenge facing the nation”.
The letter adds that the LCC’s intervention is based on frequent comments in the media by representatives of both the planners of the protest and government.
In a response to the LCC, a communication from the Council of Patriots(COP) signed by one of the organizers Mr. Abraham Darius Dillon, while acknowledging receipt of the LCC’s communication requesting a dialogue with the government on Friday, said it would prefer such a meeting to take place on June 7, the day of the protest. “We appreciate your effort to mediate a dialogue with the Government of Liberia. However, the June 7 Peaceful Assembly is a great way to dialogue because the people will be present to discuss their petition with their government. Accordingly, the COP wishes to encourage the Liberian Council of Churches to join us on June 7 to present our petition to the Government for appropriate redress.”